Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Day 15: When you see roses, smell them

During the months immediately after I left my first marriage, when I was hiding out at my friend Kristen's summer house in the Connecticut woods and trying to pick up the pieces/decide what to do next, I had an unusual perspective on time. Suddenly, there was too much of it, all waiting to be filled. It felt like time was lurking everywhere. At least twice a week I'd have a day that simply wouldn't end, filled with thoughts of shame, regret, and that awful certainty that nothing would ever get better.

Those were happy, happy days!

But if I'm honest in my remembering, here's the other thing about time that was also true: on the other days of the week (the ones where I wasn't drowning in dread) I had time to think. A lot of it. Expansive time. Space for my imagination to stretch out a bit. That was a good thing. Right now, after more than a year of intense, multi-tasking busy-ness, I miss that.

I was finishing up Eugene Peterson's book REVERSED THUNDER this morning, and he had some helpful things to say about time. This isn't my first encounter with the dual concepts of time found in the Bible (Chronos, which means chronological, sequential time, and Kairos, which is more qualitative, and means something to the effect of the right or opportune moment) but it's the first time I've seen it laid out in these terms:

"If we are dominated by a sense of chronos," Peterson warns, "the future is a source of anxiety, leeching energy from the present, leaving us whiningly discontent with the present, like the child who can't wait for Christmas." So, so true for me! Both when I was hiding out in Connecticut, and right here this morning. When I think too much about chronos, time is a tyrant; I'm always, endlessly behind.

Peterson goes on: "But if we are dominated by a sense of kairos, the future is a source of expectation that pours energy into the present." I underlined that quote approximately 17 times, as something inside me screamed, "That's what I need! Where do I sign up?" And that's the question, right? Where do we sign up?

Don't get me wrong--I don't want to abandon chronos and let my mind drift off into some fairytale land. As someone who hates being late, I appreciate having some order to my days. I just don't want to be bludgeoned by it. And I long for mental space to move around, to look for the opportunities God might want to show me. To stop, spiritually speaking, and smell the roses.

I'm reminded of a scene from Jeremiah, one of the prophetic books in the Old Testament:

"While Jeremiah was still confined in the courtyard of the guard, the word of the Lord came to him a second time: This is what the Lord says...Call to me and I will answer you and tell you great and unsearchable things you do not know."

Then the Lord went on to describe quite candidly how things were going to get worse before they got better...but he gave Jeremiah a picture of how things would, eventually, get better. That's quite a gift in the midst of whatever captivity we find ourselves in, whether we're tangled in a multitude of demands from our daily lives, or drowning in a sea of unfilled time. I like the idea that if we create the space to check in--to look for the kairos in the middle of the chronos--God will give us a vision of things we can't know any other way, a vision that will help us live well in the present and anticipate the future, rather than letting the chronos choke us with fear of what will/won't happen.

Do you stop and smell the roses? Tell us how. Do you have it built into your week as a routine, like regular prayer/meditation time, or are you good at taking spontaneous moments throughout the day? Today, let's stop whenever we think of it, call on God, and see what he says.


mkate said...

The scripture that keeps coming to my mind is in Hosea 2:14: I will lead her into the desert and speak tenderly to her there. That's what the last 6 months have been for me--lots of space to think and pray and get my heart back in order. It hasn't been easy and I haven't always heard that tender voice. Actually, I'd say 99% of the time, I've resented this "desert" and haven't always seen the gifts of this time (the space to be creative and learning how to sew, lots of time to read, catching up with old friends). SO, today I'm choosing to focus on the beauty of the roses, not the painful pricks of the thorns.

Sarakastic said...

To me I schedule a daily walk, like I HAVE to do it even if I don't have time. Then when I'm on my walk I don't have to think or concentrate.

Anonymous said...

This is a great reminder. Thanks Trish!

himmiefan said...

I have to admit that I do get all caught up in the chronos - and I have no easy answers for this - because we as women have time-bound lives (biological clock).

larramiefg said...

Eight years ago I took off my watch for a few days and felt lighter as well as more aware of the moment. I liked the freedom and never put the watch back on. Am I late for anything? No, there are clocks but my mind has developed a better sense of how much time there is.

Jane said...

After work this evening, I had an appointment near Central Park. So when it was over, I wondered into the park and sat on a bench looking over the lake. There was a beautiful white heron playing around in the water. It was mesmerizing. Time stood still and I felt alive. There was nothing to do and nowhere to go. Just being there.

KristyWes said...

A day late (chronos!) but just wanted to chime in that I appreciated this post. I find myself getting caught in the mindset of needing to go-go-go and do-do-do, and lately I've been really feeling a need to cut that out and just BE. Not "be productive," just really sit and BE. I hope to get out to the park more often, just sit & look for Jane's heron, and practice breathing and BEing.

KimberlyH said...

My time during the day is very structured, ordered and I'm rather disciplined about keeping on schedule. I have my calendar and schedule, and to-do list. But a couple of years ago, I also started listening to the small things that I wanted to do. Like while driving home, sometimes I’ll just get the idea to take the back roads. Not all the time, but sometimes. Before I would have dismissed the notion. It’s not the quickest. It’s not the most efficient. But now I’ll take it. And put my window down if I want to!
Maybe things like this are God’s way interjecting little bits joy into the present. Maybe it’s just me. Either way, I’ve found that overall I’m happier and enjoying life more.